Intended for healthcare professionals


Medical folklore—the use of your stethoscope's bell

BMJ 2007; 334 doi: (Published 01 February 2007) Cite this as: BMJ 2007;334:253
  1. Michael Reschen, senior house officer, Oxford Radcliffe Hospitals NHS Trust, Oxford (

    In my efforts to tease out medicine's innermost secrets and succeed at the final hurdle to becoming a member of the Royal College of Physicians by passing the clinical examination (PACES), I have uncovered what I consider to be an interesting and neglected fact about the bell and diaphragm of most stethoscopes.

    Like a migrating bird, I return each Christmas to my birthplace, and more importantly to my parents' address, and set aside a few minutes to sort through my obsolete but emotive adolescent belongings. Rummaging around, I unearthed my Littman stethoscope's box, …

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